Dec 1, 2013; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins running back Roy Helu (29) carries the ball as New York Giants defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins (99) chases in the first quarter at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

2014 NFL Season Preview: NFC East Running Backs

The NFC East Running Backs take center stage in this 2014 NFL season preview, as we break down the running games in this potentially gritty division. Below, you’ll find rankings of the Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants, Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys and their depth charts at the running back position.

4. Giants (Rashad Jennings, Peyton Hillis, David Wilson, Andre Williams) The Giants may have thought they got a steal when they picked up Jennings from the Oakland Raiders, but their offseason excitement might not translate to the regular season when they see Jennings take the field in 2014. His style of play is far from exciting, and a lack of big-play ability may hurt the balance of the offense. The injury-prone back looks more like a fullback than a elite ball-carrier, and he won’t be called upon to break these tough NFC East games open.

Peyton Hillis and David Wilson are where they should be on the depth chart – backup running backs. Both players have shown flashes at times, but it’s no secret that these two aren’t going to cut it for more than a handful of snaps per game.

While it’s possible the Giants will use Williams often in the pre-season, you shouldn’t expect much when he takes the field. Despite his big numbers at Boston College, Williams’ game-tape wasn’t exactly thrilling. Many thought that a 4th-round pick for Williams was a bit steep, and I expect those thoughts to be backed up after a few NFL outings.

3. Cowboys (DeMarco Murray, Lance Dunbar, Joseph Randle) It’s tough to put a guy like Murray down this low, but how can anyone be confident that he can stay healthy for an extended period of time? There’s no debating what his skills bring on the field, but having the injury bug question surround him at all times makes him a bit of a concern heading into the season.

Dunbar and Randle both provide strong, youthful bodies behind Murray, but neither should be relied upon as a “sure thing”. The experience just isn’t there for either guy, leaving the Cowboys coaching staff to rely heavily on a healthy Murray.

Both backups have a chance to get a whole lot better before the regular season starts, but there’s no reason to believe that they’ll shine in 2014.

2. Redskins (Alfred Morris, Roy Helu, Evan Royster, Lache Seastrunk) Although ranked second in the division, it’s hard to dislike what the Redskins have going on here. Alfred Morris is arguably one of the best backs in the game and he isn’t expected to drop off at all in this new offense.

Roy Helu is one of the more interesting backup backs in the league to watch. He has everything you’d want in a true “security blanket” backup. Having him to come to the aid of a fatigued Morris will play big in 2014.

A guy to watch this year is Lache Seastrunk, who went down as one of the 2014 NFL Draft’s biggest steals. Some projected him to go in the 3rd round, while the Redskins were able to grab him in the 6th. At Baylor, he provided a big spark time after time, giving him a label of one of the best rushers in the this year’s class. Expect him to impress and turn some heads in training camp.

1. Eagles (LeSean McCoy, Darren Sproles, crowded competition for the 3rd spot) Washington probably would’ve been in the number one spot before free agency, but the Eagles’ addition of Sproles automatically leapfrogs them to the top in these rankings.

This offense is electric with just McCoy (arguably the NFL’s best back) – adding the former New Orleans standout provides another entire element for Chip Kelly’s offensive scheme.

The possibilities will be endless in the Eagles’ backfield this year if McCoy can stay healthy.

Tags: NFC East NFL

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